This past week the second annual Black Girls Rock Gala was held in McKenny Hall, Tuesday March 2, 2019. Danisha Grier, a senior double majoring in Women’s Studies and Political Science and founder of the mentoring organization Project Big Sister created this one-of-a-kind event to host and make tribute to women of color on Eastern Michigan’s campus.
“While being active in student organizations I noticed that when we talk about powerful leaders, we mention men. When we talk about awards that were going to name after someone, we mention men like Barack Obama, Malcolm X, but we never really give the accolades to the women. So, I noticed that there was a disparity in that, so I decided to honor them,” said Grier.
Since October of last year, Grier and dignitaries of the media, plaque selection and creative design committees came together after nominations and began to select women through a process. Award categories ranged from Black Women in Housing, Black Women in Greek Life, Black Women in Student Led Organizations, Black Women in Faculty and a Namesake Award. Each award was dedicated to highlighting the importance of Black women in each and every space on EMU’s campus.
“The purpose of the Gala is to make sure that women are highlighted and to give credit to those who often don’t get credit and mostly it’s a surprise-award type of thing and that’s what I love most about it. Most of the women never know that they are getting an award to begin with,” said Grier.
Along with the award ceremony, Black women vendors Da Lashes (cosmetics), Reality Creations (health and wellness) and Confections Factory (desserts) came to not only support but find their next customers. Black Girls Rock Gala featured their own art gallery consisting of art from Black women on EMU’s campus. 22 art pieces were displayed and celebrated women in all aspects from sexuality to empowerment.
Before the acts of dance, singing and poetry, keynote speaker and EMU alumna Jala Wourman addressed “What it means to be Black and Woman,” from her perspective. Throughout the room women agreed with occasional snaps to head nods. Even though every Black woman is different individuality, experiences, tests and trials can often be the same.
The Black Girls Rock Gala will take place again next year, follow closely to see when on Instagram at @blackgirlsrockgala.